Monthly Archives: June 2012

Jesus Would March in the Pride Parade


I’m in Chicago today attending a workshop by the UCC Coalition for LGBT concerns. Many of the participants marched in Sunday’s Pride Parade and the energy from the parade lingers among those at the conference. Here is what the The Chicago Tribune reported about the parade: “A record crowd estimated at 850,000 … turned out to watch the parade wind through the Uptown and Lakeview neighborhoods. This was the first trip down a longer route designed to ease the overcrowding that plagued last year’s parade.” I am surrounded at this conference by people who are comfortable with who they are: people of faith who identify as LGBTQ ( there are also a whole bunch of us straight people here who identify as Open and Affirming). It was in this mindset and culture that I read the letter to the Editor in The Burlington Hawkeye this morning entitled “What He says matters”. Here is a copy of the letter, in case you missed it.

I’m writing to reply to Allison Mutchler’s letter. It really is not whether David Wiemer or you (who is a Christian) believe homosexuality is wrong. But what God says about it is in the Bible. That’s what counts. And if you read the account in the Bible where God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, you’ll know how God feels about it. So if God loathers its so badly that he destroys it with fire, why should we embrace it?

There is also scripture in the New Testament that God gave them over to their own lusts. So why do I have to embrace it? I don’t. I have a dear relative who is gay. I weep for her. My Bible says there will be no sin in heaven.

Why didn’t God destroy Adam and Eve when they sinned so nobody else would have to spend eternity in hell? Because Jesus died for the sins of the whole world and that included them too. Before Christ came and died for our sins, people looked forward to the cross. We who were born after he died look back to the cross.

These days we write our Bibles and make them say what we want them to say. My Bible forbids marriage between races. If God had wanted marble cake, he could have made that too!
Signed: Margarette Jackson from New London

Margarette’s worldview could be summed up in the words “God is judge”. My worldview and the worldview of the UCC could be summed up in the words “God is love”. God is judge means that you and I must oppose evil and if we don’t identify it and fight it, we will be condemned. God is love means we must welcome as Jesus did, promote inclusion, and show compassion. God is judge is supported by all the “thou shalt not” commandments in the bible. God is love is supported by all the “love your neighbor” commandments.

Margarette says she “weeps” for her gay relative. I weep for Margarette and everyone else who goes through life haunted by a loathsome, destructive God perfectly happy to create evil human beings so they can be saved only by means of the torturous cross and/or destined for an eternity in hell. Where in the world did that God come from? And why do we keep Him around (forgive my lack of inclusive language. It seemed appropriate).

Just as I hope that our LGBTQ sisters and brothers are someday freed from the Hell that the Church has put them in, I hope that Margarette can be freed from the Hell her oppressive theology has put her in. One last thing: the theology of judgement promotes exclusion and fear so effectively and to such an extreme that its followers do not even recognize that terms such as “marblecake” are both hurtful and hateful.

I weep for Margarette. She also scares me.



Posted by on June 27, 2012 in Blogging With Jane


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Eating Biblically


7For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with flowing streams, with springs and underground waters welling up in valleys and hills,8a land of wheat and barley, of vines(grapes) and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey…” Deuteronomy 8:7-8

At a time when everyone from Mitt Romney to Mrs. Duggar feels compelled to use the bible to determine how we should live our lives, you would think one of them would use scripture to attack our American diet. It is very clear what the bible says about processed foods. They are an abomination before God.

Why isn’t Deuteronomy 8 every bit as valid as Leviticus18:22? The bible is the bible, is it not? OK. It’s not. But even so, imagine if we did eat a diet rich in whole grains such as wheat and barley, fruits such as grapes, figs, and pomegranates. Or if we limited all fat to olive oil and all sugars to honey? And what if I replaced my diet coke, coffee, and chardonnay liquid diet with that which comes only from “springs and underground waters”?

flowing waters

It only makes sense that if we use the bible to define marriage, discourage birth control, limit the rights of women, and a whole lot of other crazy things (the Amish even use Genesis 1:26 to defend their relatively new business venture–puppy mills), we need to take just as seriously what the bible says about food. In other words, if you are going to demand that being gay is wrong because the bible says it is, then you better be ready to give up pork-on-a-stick, Big Macs, and frozen pizza.

Here’s what we would get if we followed Deuteronomy 8:

Barley and whole wheat would significantly lower cholesterol. Pomegranantes, a superfood full of antioxidants, would help us fight cancer. Grapes packed with a compound called reservatrol, would reduce our risk of stroke. Figs, a fabulous source of potassium, calcium, and fiber would protect us against macular degeneration, bone density loss, and postmenopausal breast cancer (and a whole bunch of other things). And finally, drinking water instead of diet coke? The health benefits are endless—everything from moisturizing our joints to transporting nutrients in the cells, to regulating body temperature.


We would be a healthier America if we stopped worrying about God creating us “man and woman” or that “a man doesn’t lie with another man” and started following the rest of the bible. So go eat a few figs and top it off with a glass of pomegranate juice. Why? Because it’s in the bible.

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Posted by on June 25, 2012 in Blogging With Jane


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Nuns on the Bus

Today is Friday which means l will blog on “love” following my “Eat, Pray, Love” theme.  So today is love.

Jesus said,  “Greater love has no one than this.  To get on a bus and drive around demanding rights for those who can’t demand rights for themselves.”   At least he would have such a thing had he known the nuns of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious who have launched a bus tour demanding the rights of the poor in the face of Paul Ryan’s damaging budget.

Road trip for the Women Religious.

And Jesus would have no doubt condemned the Vatican for its rigid, pharisee-like, I-have-come-bring-you-the-letter-of-the-law-not-the-spirit attitude.  It’s too bad that Jesus can’t go in and clear the Vatican like he went in and cleared the temple.  But then  maybe we don’t need Jesus when we have faithful women like the nuns who live out Jesus words in everything they do.  They are the Gospel on a bus.

Love means doing.  Not speaking or lecturing or writing scholarly articles or having great debates about justice over a glass of wine with one’s clergy friends.  Love isn’t posting a blog about love, or preaching about love, or quoting the bible about love.

Love is what the nuns are doing.  The amazing and awesome nuns are what each of us should be–love in action, true followers of Jesus, Church.

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Posted by on June 22, 2012 in Blogging With Jane


Prayer Can Surprise You

An old friend of mine, Scott Stienkirchner, surprised me with a visit last week (we hadn’t seen each other in 10 years). Scott is a member of the Dominican Order and was passing through Burlington on his way to Madison. We sat in the church office at Zion catching up on news about mutual friends, life in the Church, and most interestingly, discussing our fairly diverse theology. Scott and I went back and forth comparing the UCC with Catholicism, especially the Dominicans. Then he asked me a question that caught me off guard. He said, “Do you pray for the dead?” I felt a little incredulous and said something like “Of course not–why would I? They’re dead, after all.” Not the most sensitive response, I’ll admit. Scott, being Catholic, explained that maybe being in community with God in heaven isn’t instantaneous (my word, not his). Perhaps it happens later and prayers would be helpful.

Father Scott pondering the UCC

A new thought to my UCC mind. As a progressive-to-the-left Protestant, I don’t feel that my prayers are needed to help anyone enter heaven. The after life is entirely left up to God and I trust that a loving God is in relationship with each of us into eternity. So the answer is “no. I don’t pray for the dead.”

But today, thinking about the conversation with Scott, I thought I’d give it a try. I prayed for the dead. And I was surprised at the result. The result wasn’t a transformation of their relationship with God (at least as far as I know) but rather a transformation of mine.

First, I prayed for my Great-Aunt Veda who died nearly twenty years ago. I thanked God for all she had given me–from clothes to bags of food when our family needed it to a weekly letter through my years as an undergraduate. I felt myself remembering things about Veda that I had forgotten: her laugh, the safe feeling I had sitting at her kitchen table, the camping trips she took my sister and I on. I felt a rare connection to Veda as I asked God to be with her. For the first time in all these years, I felt her presence as I brought her name into the presence of God.

My plan had been to pray for several other people but the experience of praying for Veda was a bit overwhelming; I hadn’t expected to be so moved by a prayer.

I think I will pray for the dead everyday; not because they need my help getting into heaven, but because I need God’s help in reconnecting with them. Thank you, Veda. And thank you, God.


Posted by on June 20, 2012 in Blogging With Jane, Laity, Theology



Saving the World One Bean at a Time


Garbanzo beans are an ancient legume–7500 years old

I have been on the search for the perfect food. To qualify as perfect, the food had to be a super star in health, affordability, and of course, taste. It must contribute to interesting, easy-to-make recipes, appeal to kids (not adult picky eaters. I have no patience for the adult picky eater), prevent disease, and importantly, lead to overall happiness when you see it come to the table. Therefore, the perfect food would need an abundance of protein and fiber, but little or no cholesterol. Fat-free would be nice. And for all its nutritive punch, low in calories.

After eliminating several superfoods (mostly kicked off the short-list due to high cost), I determined a winner.……the garbanzo bean! Packed with fiber, protein, manganese, folate, and iron, garbanzo beans are also nearly fat free and have no cholesterol. The health benefits of the little garbanzo bean are huge. These bland-looking round beans will unclog your arteries, stabilize blood sugar levels, decrease your bad cholesterol, improve blood flow, and boost energy by replenishing iron.

Pretty amazing, huh?

I would contend that a national consumption of garbanzo beans could solve all of our nation’s problems. Well, at least a bunch of them.

First, a cultural menu shift from meat to beans would solve world hunger. Consider this:

…. a ten-acre farm can support 60 people growing soybeans, 24 people growing wheat, ten people growing corn and only two people producing cattle. Reducing meat production by just ten percent in the U.S. would free enough grain to feed 60 million people, estimates Harvard nutritionist Jean Mayer. Sixty million people — that’s the population of Great Britain, which, by the way, could support 250 million people on an all-vegetable diet.(

And then there is our crisis in healthcare. According to the CDC, the cost in our country of cardiovascular diseases is about $450 billion per year while treatment of these diseases accounts for about $1 of every $6 spent on health care. Compelling evidence shows that populations with diets rich in beans have 80% fewer heart-attacks than populations with heavy meat diets. You do the math.

Finally, garbanzo beans could save the children. More than 1/3 of America’s children are obese or overweight putting them at a terrible risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis.(

Want to be a good steward of your own body and at the same time effect the fate of the nation? Then eat garbanzo beans. Only $.30 cents a serving. The low cost of saving ourselves and our world.

canned garbanzo beans are just as healthy as dried

A Few Quick Serving Ideas (found at

  • Puree garbanzo beans, olive oil, fresh garlic, tahini and lemon juice to make a quick and easy hummus spread.
  • Sprinkle garbanzo beans with your favorite spices and herbs and eat as a snack.
  • Add garbanzo beans to your green salads.
  • Make a Middle Eastern-inspired pasta dish by adding garbanzo beans to penne mixed with olive oil, feta cheese and fresh oregano.
  • Simmer cooked garbanzo beans in a sauce of tomato paste, curry spices, and chopped walnuts and serve this dahl-type dish with brown rice.
  • Adding garbanzo beans to your vegetable soup will enhance its taste, texture and nutritional content.

And lots of great recipes!


Posted by on June 18, 2012 in Blogging With Jane


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Blogging Madly….

Today is Monday which means I am blogging on “Eat” from my new “Eat, Pray, Love” blog theme.  Wednesdays are “Pray” (or all things spiritual and religious).  Fridays are “Love” (or all things to do with relationships especially with those who define their life as a life of faith). 

The overall theme of my Eat, Pray, Love blog is the Church—Zion UCC, the United Church of Christ,  and Church with a capital “C”. 

I hope you enjoy the new blog.  I’ll be uploading ‘Eat” sometime before midnight tonight……

Maggie and Moses watching me as I write.

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Posted by on June 18, 2012 in Blogging With Jane


Eat, Pray, Love. No, Really.


The book Eat, Pray, Love is one of those books that everyone gives as a gift to their minister–especially (or perhaps, only if) their minister is a woman. I received two copies when it was published in 2007. Although I appreciate any and all gifts from parishioners –people kind enough to think about me long enough to choose, buy, and wrap– I never could read the book. It struck me as 364 pages of self-absorbed, neurotic rant. My apologies to anyone who loved the book and according to Facebook, it has been “liked” about a million more times than my blog has been “liked” (fact, not hyperbole).

However, as much as the the book annoyed me, it did have one truly outstanding, compelling feature– its title. I love a good title and the title of Gilbert’s book is awesome. Eat. Pray. Love. Sustenance. Communication with the divine. Relationship with others. The three word title describes the experience of the Church. Are we not a community who spends our time in the state of eat, pray, love? And how about Jesus? I challenge you to find a single page in the Gospels that doesn’t have Jesus eating, praying, or loving.

Eat, pray, love. I like it. I like it so much I am changing the focus of my blog. You may have noticed (all 17 of my loyal readers) that my blog lacks a little focus. Every book on blogging (I’ve read 2) and all the blogs on blogging (many more than 2) insist that a blog needs focus or it fizzles. Or becomes a self-absorbed rant. You might agree that I fluctuate between the two.

Consequently, in an effort to fight entropy (scientific word for “fizzle”) and self absorption(my natural inclination): I am re-theming (new word) my blog. I am calling my blog Eat, Pray, Love. I know what you are thinking–a shameless theft of title. Actually, it isn’t theft at all (I say this to answer my colleagues who want to know why I can title my blog with someone else’s title). There is no copyright on titles. Interested on what you can take off the internet and call yours even when it really isn’t? Here is a copyright link for you.

So how will my new blog format work? Like this: on Mondays I will blog on “eat”. In other words, all things related to the physical–healthy living, good stewardship of our physical world, all and everything related to how a life of faith might inform our physical health (eating, exercise, whole foods, consumer awareness, etc). For example, if today were Monday, I might write about the newly established Coffee Hour at Zion church. Why does food brings us together as a community? I might take a look at the fact that the rate of obesity among Protestant ministers is rising at alarming rates. Are the reasons for clergy obesity different from the reasons our whole society is getting heavier and heavier? As churches could we engage in more fellowship with fewer calories? If we concentrated on physical health, would it improve our ability to do good in God’s world?

On Wednesdays, I’ll blog on “Pray”. In other words, all things spiritual and religious (I don’t separate the two as if they were dipolar atoms)– reflections on scripture, preaching, radical hospitality (a little tired of that term, but it does still have a ring to it, doesnt it?), why I do what I do at the church. For example, if today were Wednesday, I might write about the disconnect between what the clergy say about inclusivity (all people welcome all the time) and what we actually do (establish socially acceptable barriers based on gender identity, disability, and socioeconomic class).

On Fridays, my topic will be “Love.” In other words, relationship within the Church. For example, I might blog about the mega-committees of the Church– the Annual Meeting of the UCC or the Methodist General Conference.

I might ask the question, would Jesus be a voting delegate at the UCC Annual meeting or would he just ask for voice without vote? Or would he spend the whole business meeting sitting outside at the cafe drinking coffee with friends? I might blog about the argument that our big denominational meetings do not really promote relationship. Some might even say (not me, necessarily) that they can destroy it.

United Methodist General Conference 2012

 My Eat, Pray, Love theme will always be a reflection of my love of the Burlington, Iowa congregation, Zion UCC and my passion for the United Church of Christ. Eat, Pray, Love will have an undercurrent of social justice, an embrace of the perils and joys of a life following Jesus, and an ongoing expression of my tumultuous love affair with the Church Universal.

Mostly, I will do my best to keep it free of self-absorbed rant. See you Monday!

Log on to and see how Zion UCC and the United Church of Christ are eating, praying, and loving.


Posted by on June 15, 2012 in Blogging With Jane

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